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THE BULL-HEADED PREMIER                   97

Szeina Kuang, Fan Chen, and Su Tungpo carried on their fight
together. Szema Kuang had had a good opinion of Wang Anshih,
and he enjoyed the great confidence of the Emperor. When the
Emperor asked him about Wang Anshih, he said: "People's criticism
of him as a hypocrite is perhaps extreme. But he is unpractical and
terribly stubborn." However, he had had a hot debate with Wang
Anshih's henchman Huiching during a class in history for the Emperor,
so much so that the latter had to break up the dispute and tell the
parties to calm down. Wang Anshih had therefore begun to dislike
Szema Kuang as opposed to his policies. Now while Wang was so
briefly on sick leave, the Emperor wanted to make Szema Kuang vice-
president of the privy council. Szema Kuang declined the office, saying
that his personal position was of no concern whatsoever, and that the
important thing was whether His Majesty was going to stop these new
"policies. Nine times Szema Kuang submitted these memorandums.
The Emperor replied:

"I am asking you to be a privy councillor in charge of military affairs.
Why do you keep on declining the office and talking about these things
which have nothing to do with the army?"

"But I have not yet accepted the military post," replied Szema Kuang.
"So long as I am in the imperial secretariat, I must bring these things
to your attention."

When Wang cancelled his leave, his position was strengthened and
4ie degraded Szema Kuang into the position oŁ a treasurer in the secre-
tariat. Twice Fan Chen rejected the imperial edict carrying this new
appointment, and the Emperor, thus being defied, with his own hand
handed the edict to Szema Kuang. Upon this, Fan Chen begged to
resign his position in the imperial secretariat and was permitted to do
so. With the restoration of Wang Anshih to power, Han Chi also
begged to resign as governor of Hopei, retaining only his district office
as magistrate at Tamingfu. Naturally, this also was granted.

Su Tungpo was getting hot under the collar. He had so much to
say and he had to say it. As may be expected, he was much more forth-
right than the others. He was then only thirty-two, and his position
I in the department of history was a low and strictly literary, non-
administrative post. He wrote two letters to the Emperor, in February
1070, and February 1071. The letters were long, exhaustive, eloquent
and minced no words. They were like those occasional modern
editorials which arouse immediate national attention. He opened his
first letter with a direct attack on the farmers* loan. He told the
Emperor that the entire nation was turning against him, and warned
him not to rely on power to suppress the people. Quoting Confucius,
he said: